In Sierra Leone, the country with the world's highest maternal mortality rate, one in eight women dies in childbirth. The primary causes of death are preventable, as poverty, lack of education, and poor infrastructure often prohibits women from getting the care they need. Circumstances often dictate that women about to give birth prefer the dirt floor of home deliveries to the hands of qualified strangers in a distant hospital. When women do make it to the hospital, they are often forced to purchase their own medications, blood, and surgery–an expense that can add up to several months wages.

Even at Sierra Leone's best maternal hospital, the Princess Christian, the mortality rate is above average. "Maternal death is an almost invisible death", stated Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund. With the eyes of the world on other global health threats like malaria and HIV/AIDS, this preventable problem is rarely addressed.

For more information visit The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/11/AR200810...